Tapping Into the Communities We Serve
Note: This post is an excerpt from an article posted last month at North Carolina State University's Philanthropy Journal and is published here with permission.
When I joined the Robins Foundation in 2014 – which aims to advance the greater Richmond community through strategic partnerships, collaborations and education – the role of director of inclusion and community impact didn’t exist. As the foundation became proactive in the region, our role evolved in responding to our partners’ needs.
In 2017, my position was created to address fairness and equitable access to quality resources. We have a strong interest in investing in programs that enrich whole families and whole neighborhoods, with a particular interest in children and their academic opportunities and success. We have three main principals – partnership, innovation and fairness. It became clear that to achieve this, we needed to take a more intentional approach toward equity and inclusion. One of the ways we do this is by embracing the idea that communities know what they need.
Here’s an example of how this has worked within our foundation. Each year, we hold a $500,000 Community Innovation Grant (CIG) competition. Organizations from all over the Richmond region apply for the grant and propose actionable solutions that have a meaningful and measurable impact. The proposals address complex issues that our region has been wrestling with for generations, including trauma-informed care, the school-to-prison pipeline, housing instability, education, workforce development and health.
Philanthropic Networks Have a Powerful Role to Play in Advancing Equity
Author: David Maurrasse
Racial inequities have persisted over generations. Social movements have challenged structural racism and encouraged the societal and policy changes required to alter various dimensions of deep-seated inequities. Whatever progress has transpired over the last several decades, recent developments have reminded us of the depth and breadth of contemporary racism. From incidents of police brutality, to the continued criminalization of people of color, to the normalizing of anti-immigrant sentiments and white supremacist thinking that were exacerbated during the 2016 elections, we have received many reminders how much work is to be done. And it is difficult to grapple with, what feels much more like movement backward in an area where so many had hoped we were on a faster track to progress with the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
In this context, conversations about race and racial equity and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) have increased in the field of philanthropy. As philanthropic contributions are often designated to address many of the issues (education, health, etc.) in which racial disparities are highly apparent, it is no wonder more voices inside and outside of the field are wondering about the role of foundations in advancing racial equity. While there is much to be done in society at large, there is also a great deal of work required if philanthropy is going to become a reliable catalyst toward racial equity and inclusion.